This post is a long over-due follow-up to “Red Light! Green Light!” It is addressed to evangelical church leaders – not lay persons, young adults or youth wrestling over faith and sexuality. Everyone is welcome to listen and offer feedback.
When evangelical leaders take a position of neutrality on the issue of homosexuality, several consequences follow. It is important to begin by stating that neutrality necessarily means something. It literally means: we are neither for nor against expressions of same-gender romantic love. Or maybe it means: we are both for and against such love. As you can see, neutrality is…confusing. What does it actually mean?
Neutrality can mean (or yield) pro-gay belief via the impact of two contagious forces. First, research shows that the top reason why people switch their belief on gay relationships is because they know someone who is gay. Uncertainty among church leaders, then, accelerates this shift that already naturally occurs. Second, uncertainty adds fuel to the social justice engine that seeks to remove biases against LGBT+ people in the church. While this is a needed work (which my ministry is highly commited to), left unguided this call for a level playing field at the foot of the Cross can turn into moral compromise.
The lesson is simple and clear: beliefs begin to change when leaders are uncertain about biblical morality.
Simultaneously, neutrality can mean (or take the form of) an anti-gay position. To illustrate this, the Apostle Paul taught that it is better to marry than to burn with lust (1 Corinthians 7:9). Why then would a neutral church leader not support gay marriage? Yet the ones I run across say things like, “We’ll think about that later.” Later? So many people are waiting right now, and they can enter sanctified marriages with your help.
The lesson is this: if same-gender relationships are moral, it is odd to hesitate supporting gay marriage.
When you consider the intellectual and spiritual flaws of a neutral position, maybe these evangelicals leaders are not really neutral. Possibly they hold to a prohibitive – or affirmative – view on homosexuality, but they are withholding their true belief for unstated reasons. For example, an evangelical pastor who has become pro-gay may believe his congregation or denomination is not quite ready for his disclosure. Or possibly a leader fears that discussing biblical truth will push seekers away from Jesus Christ.
In no way am I criticizing the heart intentions of those proclaiming neutrality. I am spiritually, intellectually, and theologically thinking about what neutrality looks like – and whether it actually exists. There are other implications and lessons that flow from neutrality on homosexuality. Join me next time to learn more.
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